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Our History

Recognized for notable significance on the National Register of Historic Places, our landmark Washington, DC hotel opened its doors as the Statler Hotel on January 18, 1943. Considered America’s most modern hotel of the time, the Statler Hotel was distinguished nationwide as one of the few major hotels built during World War II and was featured in Hotel Monthly and Architectural Forum for its industry innovations and mid-20th century modern architecture.

Since the hotel opened, it has flourished for nearly 70 years hosting presidents, world leaders, celebrities, politicians and savvy business travelers. Early on, it caught the attention of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton, and with the Statler family’s consent, Mr. Hilton purchased the Hotels Statler Company in 1954 for $111 million. At the time, the transaction was the largest real estate acquisition since the Louisiana Purchase, which included 10 hotels throughout the country as well as the Statler Washington. The hotel was eventually renamed the Statler Hilton in 1958, and became Capital Hilton in 1977, as it is known today. It now is the only Statler hotel still managed by Hilton Hotels.

Presidents & Politics

The hotel’s legendary hospitality paired with its location two blocks north of the White House has well-positioned Capital Hilton to graciously host every U.S. President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Just days after opening the hotel in 1943, construction workers hurried to complete finishing touches in time for the Statler to host Roosevelt’s big Birthday Ball. The workers also installed a custom auto-lift built especially to bring Roosevelt’s car from the street level to the second floor ballroom with privacy and ease.

Since then, the hotel’s grand Presidential Ballroom has hosted many notable events, including Washington’s famous Inaugural Balls. U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan and George W. Bush have all attended inaugural celebrations at Capital Hilton.

President Ronald Reagan Capital Hilton

Many commander-in-chiefs have graced the hotel’s suites and restaurants, too. President Eisenhower frequented the hotel as a general, and spent the night before his inauguration in the Presidential Suite. As a presidential candidate, Bill Clinton conducted interviews with potential running mates in the hotel's Ambassador Suite, including his eventual vice president, Al Gore.

President Truman used the Constitution Suite so often throughout his term, it is now named the Harry Truman Suite in his honor. Inside the same suite today sits the baby grand piano the 33rd president played while entertaining guest and relaxing during his visits.

Truman would come to the hotel often for meetings and social events, and even take the two-block stroll from the White House to the hotel with his wife Bess to enjoy his favorite dish in the restaurant – meatloaf. President Richard Nixon was also known to walk over to the hotel and frequently enjoy a meal in the hotel’s former Trader Vic’s Restaurant.

Diplomacy & Legendary Appeal

From the early days as a Statler to today as Capital Hilton, the hotel at 16th and K streets has been the place to see politicians and world leaders, and sometimes even witness history in the making. Winston Churchill, then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Charles have all enjoyed the refinement of the hotel.

General MacAurthur penned the infamous line “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away” in the hotel’s Presidential Suite, and Fidel Castro has delivered a speech in the Presidential Ballroom in one of his rare visits to the United States.

Jonh F kennedy Washington DC Hotel

The hotel played an important role in the events surrounding the historic Civil Rights March on Washington in August 1963. After the March concluded, leaders of the movement returned to the hotel and met in the Statler’s Congressional Room to hold a press conference and discuss follow-up activities.

While these history-makers have shaped Capital Hilton’s historic past, Hollywood celebrities have added their own charm to the hotel’s legacy. Hotel guests Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Jinx Flakenburg and Red Skelton brought glamour to the hotel. It was even the set for an opening scene of the comedy “Born Yesterday,” featuring Judy Holliday.

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